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its universal extension. Happy are ye in the liberty with which Christ hath made you free, and in the light which he hath spread around you. In beholding our country so improved by culture, and so enriched by commerce, we think with wonder, that where the corn now waves, was once a heath or a forest, and that cia ties, the seats of trade or science, occupy the place where wild beasts roamed. But the gospel has produced a change far more important and blissful. Reli, gion spreads her treasures of wisdom, and her institutions of piety and mercy over the scene of ignorance, vice, and misery, and her power is felt, and her worship is rising in districts which had been for ages de . voted to superstition. Beware of doubting the universal prevalence of this religion on account of the enemies that
every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be laid low, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Let the purity, the liberality, and the zeal of your conduct be suited to the privileges you enjoy, and to the hope of your calling. The question, what do ye more than others ? suggests the obligation of superior activity on your part in the service of your Redeemer. I hope you feel it, and will be zealous in good works.
And rejoice that Christ died thus, that he might obtain for you a peaceful end. When the wicked man dies, the heavens reveal his iniquity, and the earth rises up against him. Often have the ungodly been seen quaking in every limb, their faces covered with blackness, and their breasts heaving with agony. But the good man dies in peace, the earth opens, but it is to give him a place of rest in her bosom; the hearts of his friends are torn with grief, but there is a Comforter whose office it is to bind them up. And when the heavens and the earth shall flee away from the face of Him that sits on the throne ; and when the creation, which was convulsed at the purchase of redemption, shall be dissolved at its consummation, ye shall stand unshaken on the Rock of Ages, and reign with Christ for ever in a kingdom that cannot be move ed. Amen.
MARK XV. 39.
And when the Centurion who stood over against him, saw that he so cried and gave up the ghost, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.'»
When we read or hear of any remarkable event, our curiosity is excited to know what impression it produced on the spectators, whether it awakened astonishment or fear, or anger or joy; and how these feelings were manifested.
Such a desire hath been strongly felt with regard to the crucifixion of our Lord, and Pro. vidence hath gratified it by recording among other para ticulars, the memorable confession of the Roman Cen. turion.
It appears that this man was first impressed with the belief of our Lord's innocence, and that, in the course of the solemn scene, he was made to feel the strongest convictions of his divine excellence and glory. The Jews had sought to stone Jesus, for saying that God was his Father. Peter, who had made this good confession, “ Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God," had with oaths and curses averred “ I know not the man.” On his declaring himself the Christ, the Son of the Blessed before the council, the high priest rent his clothes, saying, " he hath spoken blasphemy;" but behold from the lips of a soldier and of a heathen, an ample testimony is brought to this momentous truth. It may confirm your faith, and direct, and animate your profession, to consider the characters which mark this testimony. It is the second instance of a person of this rank and office doing homage to Christ. The former honoured him, by expressing his confidence in his power to heal his sick servant without coming near him; and Jesus declared, in the language of admiration, “ I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel,' but this man glorified him when he was humbled to the death of the cross; and though no approbation was expressed in the hearing of mortals, its insertion in the word of God is a proof of the estimation with which this testimony was regarded in heaven. Let us learn from it, the feelings with which we ought to con. template a crucified Saviour, and the homage that is due to him at the cross.
The centurion's testimony, though short, is full and comprehensive. From his residence in Judea, it is obvious that he must have heard of the Messiah, and of his divine character. He was aware that the sufferer had elaimed the title of the Son of God, and he here confesses its justice. He acknowledges him as the Son of God, who had suffered and died in our nature; and as such a Being could not suffer for any fault of his own, or against his will, he felt that his crucifixion must have been endured to obtain some important ends. These ends were, we trust, unfolded to him, by that Spirit who will teach the meek his way, and guide the ingenuous mind into all truth.
This testimony is expressed with great energy. It is not like the language of mere pity and hope, in which spectators speak of the characters of the dying; but it is the opinion of one who beheld in our Lord, not only the purity of innocence, but the majesty of divinity. There is nought of conjecture or hesitancy about it; it is the language of certain and entire persuasion,
Its abruptness is most worthy of notice. It is obviously the language of nature under strong excitement, and is not liable to the least suspicion of art or affectation. He does not preface it by any representation of its object or justice; but, persuaded that every eye, and every thought around him, were directed to the cross where his were fixed, he breaks out at once in this devout exclamation.
Consider its boldness. It was made in opposition to the populace who had derided Christ's claim, and to the court which had condemned him for maintaining it. It might subject him to the disapprobation and contempt of his companions in command, who would be ready to imagine that he ought to have manifested more firm, ness of mind, and greater sternness of manner on this occasion; and he was aware that it would be most of fensive to the leading men among the Jews, who would make the most unfavourable representation of his conduct to his superiors, and thus might not only impede his promotion, but occasion the loss of his office, nay of his life; yet he expresses with all the courage of a holy zeal, the impressions of his heart.
This is not the testimony of an associate of our Lord's, whose language might be viewed with suspicion as that of a partizan, but of a stranger, all whose preju. dices were directed against Christ, and his pretensions, till they were swept away by the overpowering evidence of his innocence and dignity, presented in this scene.
It is a circumstance well worthy of our notice, that in this testimony he was joined by the Roman soldiers under his command at the cross. These hardy veterans, inured to scenes of peril and blood, and accustom. ed to regard the Jews with scorn and hatred, and who had mocked and abused our Lord, when he was placed in their power, were now filled with awe, and declare his greatness whom they had seen expiring in anguish and shame.
This testimony strikingly accords with those paid to Jesus at the two most remarkable periods of his life, his baptism, and his transfiguration. The voice came not from the excellent glory, but it proceeded from the lips and heart of a man under the influence of the Eternal Spirit. Heavenly wisdom spoke by this man, and its words were in his tongue. And in paying this testimony he could have no motives but the purest and the best. He had no interest to serve by it; nor can it be said that he wished to gratify his vanity, by an affectation of feeling for the sufferer; for this was quite un. suitable to what was deemed becoming in a soldier. It was prompted by a wish to do justice to injured innocence, and to insulted majesty, and to ad his revilers and murderers to repentance for their conduct.
But what led the centurion to this memorable confession? He was led to it by the wonders which attended the death of Christ. It was a notion common among the heathen, that remarkable appearances often accompanied the death of those who were dear to the gods, and this opinion might excite his attention to the import of these prodigies; but, beholding them sure passing so far every thing that he had read in the records of history, or in the fables of superstition respecting the end of men of eminence, and guided by the